News Column

Grosse Pointe voters say no to $50M bond issue; plus full tri-county results

February 25, 2014

By Lori Higgins, Detroit Free Press



Feb. 26--Voters in the Grosse Pointe Public School System handily defeated a contentious $50.2-million bond proposal Tuesday, sending the district back to the drawing board to address its technology needs.

The 10-year measure would have raised taxes for school purposes by 23%, adding 2.28 mills in the first year and costing the owner of a home with a taxable value of $100,000 an additional $228 a year. For many in the community, the financial impact was too great.

The proposal was defeated by a margin of 8,486-3,593.

"The voters have spoken," said Joan Dindoffer of Grosse Pointe Park, president of the Grosse Pointe Board of Education. "We're going to have to analyze the results and determine how best to serve our students in the community."

Dindoffer said the results were "certainly more one-sided than I expected."

The Grosse Pointe proposal was one of a handful of proposals -- most of them school-related -- on the ballot for Tuesday's election.

-- Wayne County election results

-- Oakland County election results

-- Macomb County election results

For those pushing for a "yes" vote in Grosse Pointe schools, the defeat was surprising.

"It certainly came as a shock to me. Grosse Pointe has traditionally supported the schools at the polls," said Bob Haran, treasurer of the group GP Tech Yes.

He said he hopes the district comes back with a different proposal, but after studying what voters would be willing to support.

The bond money would have been used to pay for new computers and technology upgrades. It also would have been used to replace or add generators; upgrade phone systems; improve libraries and media centers; add new security cameras and doors, and install a private fiber-optic network.

Terri Reynolds of Grosse Pointe Farms voted no because she said the district did a poor job of communicating with the public, and it was asking for too much.

"While I'm happy to support the system, I don't believe they've investigated enough as to the feasibility of this," Reynolds said.

Part of the district's plan was to provide digital devices, such as tablets, to every student in Grade 3 and up -- devices that could be taken home. Reynolds said that would have raised safety concerns.

"People will know that these kids are carrying iPads. Who then becomes responsible for that child's safety?"

Reynolds said the proposal has divided the community.

"It's as though they're blaming people who don't want to pay higher taxes, thinking we don't want to give kids a great education. That's not true. We absolutely want kids to have a great education. But we also want to be responsible about it."

Here is how other school-related proposals fared Tuesday.

-- Anchor Bay School District: Voters approved a proposal to renew 18 mills on non-homestead property (businesses, industrial, commercial, secondary residences) for 10 years for operating purposes. The vote was 1,929-776.

Clawson Public Schools: Voters approved a $9.9-million bond proposal, 889-446. The money will pay for safety and security upgrades, building renovations and exterior projects. The district says the proposal will not result in higher school taxes because existing debt is being retired.

West Bloomfield School District: Voters OK'd a proposal to renew 18 mills on non-homestead property (businesses, industrial, commercial, secondary residences) and 5 mills on primary residences for 10 years for operating purposes. The vote was 2,427-1,086.

Westwood Community School District: Voters approved a proposal to renew 18 mills on non-homestead property (businesses, industrial, commercial, secondary residences) for 20 years for operating purposes. The vote was 123-105.

Wyandotte Public Schools: Voters approved a proposal to renew 18 mills on non-homestead property (businesses, industrial, commercial, secondary residences) for 10 years for operating purposes. The vote was 1,478-734. A second proposal to allow the district to levy an additional 1 mill for 10 years, but only if the 18-mill levy is reduced, also passed. The vote was 1,458-746.

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